After two years of decreasing traffic-related pedestrian and cyclist deaths, the reports coming out of the third year of New York City’s Vision Zero initiative show that the number of traffic deaths jumped up in 2016.
While the total number of traffic-related deaths in 2016 was the lowest since New York City began recording these figures in 1910, more pedestrians and cyclists were killed in 2016 than they were since Vision Zero was implemented by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014. A spokesman for the traffic safety advocacy organization, Brian Zumhagen, said:
“Though traffic fatalities were down overall last year, cyclist and pedestrian fatalities moved in the wrong direction as key Vision Zero indicators.”
While this recent uptick in fatalities is concerning, de Blasio remains optimistic about the future of the initiative but understands that a lot of work remains to be done.
“Despite our record success in saving lives these past three years, we know that Vision Zero is just starting… Even with all our work and after the safest year in history, someone was lost in a traffic crash on average once every day and a half, still too frequent.”
The New York City mayor announced an additional $500 million commitment to the project back in January to help speed up safety projects. So far, officials say that they have completed over 240 projects, including 1,248 crossing signals that give pedestrians more time to cross the street, 1,000 brightened crosswalks and 30 miles of new bike lanes. Even with these improvements, future change will depend on how the additional money is used. Julia Kite of Transportation Alternatives said that:
“The budget increase the mayor unveiled recently can only have a significant impact for Vision Zero if projects are scaled up and the focus is on ‘priority locations’ the Department of Transportation has identified.”
The NYPD and DOT identified a number of locations around New York City to place primary focus on in 2015, and teams were put together to survey the areas in order to redesign them in a safer fashion. Vision Zero is a massive project that could potentially save the lives of countless pedestrians and cyclists. A considerable amount of work remains to be done to keep everyone safe in the city, but the increased commitment and effort from the mayor’s office is a good sign.
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